Monday, April 19, 2004

The promised tale of the Poland trip.....
The bus left at 1am Saturday morning, it was a large tour bus completely filled. As soon as we got started the lights went out and most settled in to read or sleep. There was a poor woman on there who brought her almost 2 year old with her, which was a huge mistake. I could tell you how I was thinking she was crazy for doing this, but I decided to talk with her at one of the rest stops to see how she was doing. Then I find out her husband is deployed to Iraq and she was so tired of staying home and doing nothing. She had been on bus trips with her daughter before, with no problems. And didn't think the trip would be so long, she had friends that had driven to Poland in less than 6 hours. So, while I would have liked a little more sleep I had too much sympathy for her to be annoyed. Tour buses move like slugs on the autobahn, or so it seems. We arrived at the Polish border at 6:50am, to be told there was shift change, they wouldn't start checking the buses for a while. All in all a 2 hour wait to get into the country, plus a 5 euro fee per person! You never know with those border guards, I think it depends on what bills they have due as to whether/how much they charge the buses. But really, we shouldn't complain, the wait for trucks going in was 36 hours! We finally get into Poland and start for Boleslaweic, the town known for pottery and not a lot else. I was trying to think of how to describe Poland and the best word is "bleak". Very dingy and not a happy looking place. But I did see something I had not seen on our past visits, new construction. Appeared to be homes or duplex type buildings. So that must be a sign of some improvement in the state of things there. There is horrible road construction, (that comes up again!) but again, it is more improvements on the way. At some of the brand new traffic circles I noticed signs "This project funded in part by the European Union" so obviously the EU is pumping funds in their soon to be member. We made a few stops, each with 5 or more shops full of pottery, baskets, wooden chess sets, crystal and some other odds and ends. The amount of pottery is overwhelming, and it's amazing how many more shops have popped up over the last 5 years. Big shops too, not just little shacks. We had a good time at all of the shopping areas, and filled up the bottom of the bus with all the purchases. At the last one we were accosted by children begging and trying to carry our purchases for a tip. The begging children were hard to feel sorry for, in their fancy sneakers and riding really nice bikes. "euro please euro please please please!!" I'm sure they do well, since there were 3 buses there in the 2 hours we were there, and countless cars with USA plates coming and going. I saw some Swiss people getting their windows cleaned by the boys, so they do that too. Enterprising kids to say the least. So, we pull out at 4pm and get stuck in the road construction/border bottleneck for another 2 1/2 hours!!!! That's 4 1/2 hours of time wasted on the trip, it's amazing people go on these bus tours repeatedly. You would think there would be a way to expedite things at the border, knowing all these buses are coming to spend money. We stopped in Dresden for dinner, there is a huge shopping center with IKEA, Toys R Us, and a restaurant formerly known as Applebee's. It's under a different name but still has the same menu, and it was delicious! We were ready for some good American cuisine at this point, and it did not disappoint. Then back on the bus, arriving back at post at 1am. We were all exhausted and I was very happy to fall into bed.

The pottery was beautiful as always, and there are so many new patterns to choose from. But it has gotten so much more expensive, I couldn't believe some of the prices on it. I really didn't get too much, we have so much from previous trips. But there were people that had 3 or 4 huge boxes of pottery (they pack it up for you in the store, they are geared for this) by the end of the trip. The stores take Euros, dollars and of course credit cards. I'm curious how much money they collect on a Saturday like this, there were at least 5 tour buses from US military bases and who knows how many people in private vehicles. Whenever I go back I will definitely drive myself, the trip is much shorter in a car, and not so much of a hassle at the border. On May 1st Poland will become part of the European Union, and sometime after that the border will open up. Eventually they will switch over the Euro for currency, they currently use the zloty. It will be interesting to see the changes in the country as they reap some of the benefits of being part of the EU.

I took some pictures in Poland, it's not the prettiest place. But thought you may want to see what it looks like. I put them over on the photo site. There are some beautiful things in Poland, and historical sites, just not where we were. The area we were in is mainly known for the pottery, and has been for many years!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?